An Oscar Win for Leo, and for Climate Change

By: Alison Treen

At this point, everyone knows that Leonardo DiCaprio (finally) got his Oscar on Sunday.

Although that means we have to say goodbye to the hundreds of Leo’s-losing-face memes, let’s be honest—it’s about time. I’m still surprised he didn’t win in 1993 for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and don’t even get me started on Titanic in 1998…

But that’s beyond the point. DiCaprio’s victory wasn’t just an exciting, long-awaited moment for every hopeless fangirl, but it also turned into a public address on climate change (as if the reasons to love him weren’t already enough).

In his eloquent acceptance speech, Dicaprio follows up his shout-outs with a call to save the planet:

“Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship with the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history…Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. Let us not take this planet for granted.”

DiCaprio’s speech was powerful and left most who heard him speak impressed, but a speech such as this requires merit or it’s worthless. How has DiCaprio been involved with climate change efforts? Is he just another gentle, vegan Californian who drops the words “anthropogenic” and “sustainability” wherever he pleases? I was happy to discover when researching his environmental efforts that he is in fact not all talk but walking the walk.

DiCaprio speaking at the UN Climate Change Summit, 2014                             PC: Toronto Sun


In fact, the man is so involved with environmental initiatives that I can’t list them all in one paragraph. He spoke at the UN Climate Change Summit in 2014, a speech that rivals the one he gave Sunday night. I don’t know how he has time to do any of this, but he’s become even more superhuman to me. So, in the briefest form possible, here is why DiCaprio’s call to action is not just a publicity stunt:


The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation


His organization, founded in 1998, has awarded $30 million in grants devoted to sustainability efforts and supports over 65 organizations in over 40 countries. A foundation involved in over 70 projects worldwide that is so incredible that frankly you could write a book on all of them. Here are just a few of the projects the foundation supports: solar micro grids in Zambia, urban gardens in West Oakland, marine protected areas in Chile, no-drill zones in Alaska, protecting wild tigers in Nepal and restoring degraded coasts in Somalia. That’s not even all of page one.

Multiple Board Memberships

Opening NRDC Environmental Action Center, 2004 


DiCaprio’s an active board member of multiple recognized organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Global Green USA, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Web Films


DiCaprio has co-written and produced two short web films: Water Planet and Global Warming He also narrates both films, Water Planet highlights the importance of water and its threats, primarily climate change and human activities such as water waste, dams and chemical pollutants. It’s actually a sort of dismal video because in some places it seems a little apocalyptic, but the purpose of the video is clear. Global Warming has a similar tone.



In 2007, DiCaprio released this documentary urging change in human behavior for a sustainable planet. It’s similar to his earlier mini-videos in its focus on global warming and how humans’ actions are harming the planet. The documentary brings in over 50 esteemed scientists, scholars, and world leaders, including Stephen Hawking and Mikhail Gorbachev.

There’s a lot more to be said about DiCaprio’s involvement in environmental activism—these are just some highlights. Clearly saving the planet isn’t just a charitable cause that he’s adopted for publicity: it’s something that matters to him.

And it’s something that should matter to us all.


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